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Interception: How Info and Secrets Get Stolen

Spy Seminar Series

Rendezvous Info

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Briefing

How can you protect a secret? Keep it on a need-to-know basis?  Encrypt it?  Run the shower when you discuss it?  You may know these tactics from TV and movies, but what’s the reality?  In this series, intelligence experts and historians will explore how secrets are safeguarded and stolen. They’ll cover collection operations and counter tactics from the Cold War to today ranging from organized campaigns by one country against another, to systems turned against citizens, and even to solo 21st century hackers with an agenda.   

Cold War Codebreaking

February 7

Codes and ciphers are built for protecting secrets. The National Security Agency was built to break them.  How did the NSA come to be and how did its cryptanalysts crack some of the most complicated codes of the twentieth century? Stephen Budiansky, author of Code Warriors: NSA’s Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union, will trace the history of the agency and its remarkable successes and destructive failures during the Cold War when the USSR was the ultimate target.

The Berlin Tunnel

February 14

In 1954, while thousands were fleeing communist East Berlin, American and British intelligence officers were tunneling in. Working with Britain’s MI6 and US and British  army engineers, the CIA dug a tunnel into the Soviet sector of Berlin. The goal? Tapping Soviet military and intelligence communications cables. Steve Vogel, author of the upcoming book, Diamond and Gold: George Blake, the Berlin Tunnel and an Epic Tale of Cold War Espionage, will reveal the remarkable story behind the tunnel’s clandestine construction, its betrayal by the notorious British spy George Blake, and the truth about the effectiveness of this audacious project. 


Every Citizen a Target?

February 21

The East German Ministry for State Security, the Stasi, was one of the most effective and feared spy agencies in history. Infamous for spying on its own citizens using informants, it also developed little-known eavesdropping technology to spy abroad against espionage targets. Dr. Kristie Macrakis, author of Seduced by Secrets:  Inside the Stasi’s Spy-Tech World reveals the true story behind the headlines.
 

Listening In

February 28

New technology provides incredible convenience: you can hail a cab from your smartphone while planning your next vacation. It also creates new threats to security: North Korean hackers destroyed networks at Sony Pictures to retaliate for a film that mocked the country’s leader, and Russian cyberattackers leaked DNC emails in an attempt to sway the US election. Our digital networks--personal, business, and government-- are all vulnerable.  How can we individually and as a country protect ourselves?  Cybersecurity expert and author of Listening In, former Google privacy analyst Susan Landau will explore the issues and challenges  of digital security and ideas for how to maintain security in an insecure age.

*To register:  (via phone) 202.633.3030; (online) SmithsonianAssociates.org.  Internet Quick Tix code for the program 1M2-941: Spy Museum members should identify themselves and give the PROMO code: 235046

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